Not that many years ago, I flew first class on commercial jets, sometimes used Gulfsteams provided by those who employed me, carried an American Express Platinum Card, drove a Porsche and lived the high life.
Wife Amy and I vacationed in exotic locations around the world, celebrated New Year’s Eve in London one year, in Time Square in New York another and Washington’s National Mall in many other years.
Did we have good times? Of course.
Do we miss it? No. Another place, another time, another life.
I also drank far too much, put my values on hold to help create propaganda-driven visions of an out-of-control government and didn’t think much about the problems outside of our privileged enclave in the Washington, DC, area.
As an operative for the political ruling class in Washington, I worked without constraints or consideration for the rules. I traveled lavishly at taxpayer expense, often on one of those blue-and-white Boeings emblazoned with “United States of America” on the fuselage.
On most international trips, I carried two passports: One, the normal blue one that identified me as a United States citizen and a red “official” one for use by an official of Uncle Sam’s government. Stamps for entrance and departures around the world filled both.
When I stopped flying in 2004, United Airlines sent me a letter asking “is everything all right. We’ve haven’t seen you for a while.” I usually flew more than 100,00 miles a year on United and carried a 1K Club card.
As the cliche goes, that was then, this is now. My expired Amex Platinum card sits in a box somewhere, along with expired memberships in airline clubs, both The Capitol Hill Blue and the Democratic Club in Washington and the National Press Club downtown.
Sold both of our Porsches in 2004, just before moving to Floyd, and replaced them with a Wrangler and a Liberty — both four-wheel drives from Jeep. Two suits sit in the closet — a grey pin-stripe for weddings and a black one for funerals. Four french cuff dress shirts in the dresser and a pair of wing tips in a box and a few ties hanging in another closet.
I have a tuxedo in there too. Will probably never need it. Amy has some evening clothes and nice pieces of apparel but we spend most of our days in jeans, t-shirts and the like.
Amy now also has a Mini-Cooper convertible, a “John Cooper Works” convertible that stays in the garage when the weather is bad lets us enjoy the open air and winding roads on good days. She also has a Can-Am Spyder motorcycle and I have my trusted Harley.
The lifestyle we had in Washington also let us buy our home here, along with some other property, with cash.
I still return to Washington a couple of times for commitments that continue more than a decade after I left. I speak to a politics and journalism course and serve on a board that meets annually.
Most of our 23 years in Washington brought its share of fun but 9/11 changes the city into an armed camp where paranoia reigns while distrust and hate dominate.
It has become a place where I can visit as long as I don’t have to live there.